In recent years, structural and functional alterations in the cerebellum have been reported in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Intriguingly, recent studies demonstrated that the social behavioural profile of individuals with cerebellar pathologies is characterized by a theory of mind (ToM) impairment, one of the main behavioural hallmarks of ASD. The aim of the present study was to compare ToM abilities and underlying cerebello-cortical structural patterns between ASD individuals and individuals with cerebellar atrophy to further specify the cerebellar role in mentalizing alterations in ASD. Twenty-one adults with ASD without language and intellectual impairments (based on DSM-5), 36 individuals affected by degenerative cerebellar damage (CB), and 67 healthy participants (HPs) were enrolled in the study. ToM abilities were assessed using the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test and the faux pas test. One-way ANCOVA was conducted to compare the performances between the two cohorts. Three-dimensional T1-weighted magnetic resonance scans were collected, and a voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed to characterize the brain structural alterations in the two cohorts. ASD and CB participants had comparable ToM performance with similar difficulties in both the tests. CB and ASD participants showed an overlapping pattern of grey matter (GM) reduction in a specific cerebellar portion (Crus-II). Our study provides the first direct comparison of ToM abilities between ASD and CB individuals, boosting the idea that specific cerebellar structural alterations impact the mentalizing process. The present findings open a new perspective for considering the cerebellum as a potential target for treatment implementation.

The cerebellum is linked to theory of mind alterations in autism. A direct clinical and MRI comparison between individuals with autism and cerebellar neurodegenerative pathologies / Clausi, Silvia; Olivito, Giusy; Siciliano, Libera; Lupo, Michela; Laghi, Fiorenzo; Baiocco, Roberto; Leggio, Maria. - In: AUTISM RESEARCH. - ISSN 1939-3792. - 14:11(2021), pp. 2300-2313. [10.1002/aur.2593]

The cerebellum is linked to theory of mind alterations in autism. A direct clinical and MRI comparison between individuals with autism and cerebellar neurodegenerative pathologies

Giusy Olivito;Libera Siciliano;Fiorenzo Laghi;Roberto Baiocco;Maria Leggio
2021

Abstract

In recent years, structural and functional alterations in the cerebellum have been reported in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Intriguingly, recent studies demonstrated that the social behavioural profile of individuals with cerebellar pathologies is characterized by a theory of mind (ToM) impairment, one of the main behavioural hallmarks of ASD. The aim of the present study was to compare ToM abilities and underlying cerebello-cortical structural patterns between ASD individuals and individuals with cerebellar atrophy to further specify the cerebellar role in mentalizing alterations in ASD. Twenty-one adults with ASD without language and intellectual impairments (based on DSM-5), 36 individuals affected by degenerative cerebellar damage (CB), and 67 healthy participants (HPs) were enrolled in the study. ToM abilities were assessed using the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test and the faux pas test. One-way ANCOVA was conducted to compare the performances between the two cohorts. Three-dimensional T1-weighted magnetic resonance scans were collected, and a voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed to characterize the brain structural alterations in the two cohorts. ASD and CB participants had comparable ToM performance with similar difficulties in both the tests. CB and ASD participants showed an overlapping pattern of grey matter (GM) reduction in a specific cerebellar portion (Crus-II). Our study provides the first direct comparison of ToM abilities between ASD and CB individuals, boosting the idea that specific cerebellar structural alterations impact the mentalizing process. The present findings open a new perspective for considering the cerebellum as a potential target for treatment implementation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1572583
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